Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What we're reading: Realistic romance

The Geography of You and Me is the new book by Jennifer E. Smith, the author of This Is What Happy Looks Like, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Although I had read neither of those books, several teens had recommended them to me. I decided to try the new one first!

There seems to be a certain formula to Smith's books: In Happy, there's a mix-up in email addresses that brings the two main characters together, while in Love at First Sight, it's a meet-cute in an airport after a missed flight. Similarly, the two protagonists of Geography encounter one another for the first time in a hot, stalled elevator in the midst of a New York City blackout.

Shortly after Owen and Lucy get out of the elevator, though, they go their separate ways--and those prove to be radically separate, with many moves and changes on both their parts--but they manage to keep an at times tenuous connection going, despite everything. There is doubt and confusion about how the other person feels and what he or she wants; but they both hold the night of the elevator as a special turning point in their lives and hope that it will turn out to be more than just an accidental meeting, soon forgotten.

There are some unbelievable aspects--not with the relationship between the two of them, but rather with their respective family situations--but in the main, I enjoyed the pacing, the dialogue, and the storytelling. And the famous star at the center of Paris makes another appearance here (it last played a significant role in Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins). Bottom line: Who doesn't love a book that includes Paris?

Although the postcards were a nice device, I have to say that I found the lack of any connection to social media unbelievable. As a librarian who works with teenagers, I don't meet many who aren't welded to their cell phones, busily texting away; and I actually had a teen come to the reference desk a few weeks ago to ask me where to put the stamp on a "snail-mail" letter! I know that Owen's situation didn't allow for "fancy" devices such as iPhones, but I found his sentiments about using email too old-fashioned to give credence!

Over all, this was a sweetly romantic book that held my attention. I will look back on its characters with gentle fondness rather than with great enthusiasm, but it definitely hooked me from the beginning. Fans of Stephanie Perkins would probably enjoy it, and vice versa!

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